P.O. BOX 3966, Sequim, WA 98382
Message Phone 360-460-6258
Oct 17, 2016
Reporter, HuffPost By Elyse Wanshel
Photographer, Brian Harmon - Charles Graves with Sky, a Pyrenees Husky
A group of inmates who were part of a dog-training program have been reunited with their furry friends.
Since 2012, the Clallam Bay Corrections Center in Washington State has offered prisoners a chance to rehabilitate rescue dogs with behavioral problems. Thanks to the program, 160 dogs and 73 puppies from the Welfare for Animals Guild rescue group in Sequim have found permanent homes.
On Sept. 28, the incarcerated trainers gathered in a visitors’ room at the prison for a reunion with some of the rehabilitated pups, who were accompanied by their owners and volunteers from WAG. They ate cake, cuddled with the canines, posed for pictures and enjoyed plenty of tail wagging.
“[The handlers] love to see that the dogs they trained are being successful in their families,” Barbara Brabant from WAG told The Huffington Post. “It really makes them feel like they are making a difference.”
Photographer, Brian Harmon - Inmate Keith Birch with a pup named Luto
Over the years inmates have received random updates about how the dogs they’ve helped are thriving in their new homes, typically through photos their families send to the prison.
Occasionally a dog was brought to the prison for a day trip, which inspired Tanja Cain, CBCC’s prison offender program coordinator, to organize a reunion. WAG loved the idea and got in touch with the dogs’ families.
Photographer, Brian Harmon - Everyone at the reunion gathers for a group photo
“It was a very successful event that we plan on continuing in the future,” said Brabant. During the reunion, prisoners also spoke about the impact that the program has had on them and the prison.
Photographer, Brian Harmon - Inmates David Craig (L) and Douglas Gallagher reunite with Skeeter.
“I feel that through this program, I am being able to top the scales by doing so much more good,” William Friedrichs, a 33-year-old inmate serving 28 years for armed robbery, told The Associated Press. “I’m finally creating positive stuff instead of just negative, destructive things.”
Photographer, Brian Harmon - Inmate Jarrett Reedy with a dog named Lacie Mae.
The dogs that have gone through the program have ranged from canines that didn’t know how to meet other dogs without barking and lunging, to pups that were abused and needed to learn to trust again.
The animals sleep in the inmates’ cells and get taken on regular walks in a special prison yard, where their handlers clean up after them. Each pooch has to pass an American Kennel Club obedience test before they leave, so most stay for a minimum of seven weeks.
Photographer, Brian Harmon - Inmate William Friedrichs with the pooch, Connor.
“Each dog is different, like each person,” Brabant told HuffPost. “Some need longer [to heal], either emotionally or physically.”
The inmates who attended the reunion were enrolled into the program due to good behavior, which means they had no infractions for one year. Brabant says that the men who participate in the program benefit by learning patience and empathy. Friedrichs agrees.
“It’s helped with my ability to communicate with others, and I’ve become more compassionate,” he told the AP. “There are not a lot of jobs in here that have that.”
Oct 17, 2017
Approximately 30 volunteers, adoptive parents, a veterinarian and a veterinarian technician were invited to Clallam Bay Corrections Center (CBCC) along with five very eager dogs for the second annual "CBCC Reunion" on September 26, 2017. The reunion is a way of reuniting the incarcerated dog handlers with the dogs they trained and were adopted out into the community, and was the idea of Barb Brabant and Mel Marshall of WAG and Tanja Cain and Michelle Klepps of CBCC.
Dogs in the program are paired with the incarcerated trainers and are with them 24 hours per day, seven days per week. The trainers have actively worked with many dogs throughout the years, and the number of dogs they take can easily double when litters of puppies are given to WAG. Program Coordinator Brabant stated, "up to five puppies at a time can be in a cell with two trainers. It can make for a long night and a big mess in the morning."
Anxious and eager, the dogs were led into the visit room where their trainers were already on their knees waiting for them with open arms.
Barb Brabant, who started the program March 2012, is thrilled that CBCC has allowed the reunion event. "The trainers pour their hearts and souls into these dogs. They not only train them in basic obedience but show them love and compassion." Many of the dog handlers state that this is the first time in their lives they have felt or have given these kind of feelings.
The event not only allows the trainers to be reunited with their dogs but enables them to meet the dogs' new parents and gives the parents the chance to see who turned their dog's life around.
Heartbreaking though it can be to relinquish a dog just as it's turned around, the trainers are given a new dog that needs them just as much as the last one. At one point, the trainers were allowed to give testimonials of their experiences. William Friedrichs, a trainer for the past four years who has handled and trained some of the most difficult dogs stated, "This is a great program. We get these dogs, who aren't really unlike us... they made some mistakes. To be able to take a dog that no one wants, that's unfit for society, and work with them and see them become part of someone's family... that's what makes this program so rewarding. If a broken dog can come in and get rehabilitated, it parallels the goals for which we're striving."
Beyond the tail-wagging reunion, seven trainers were awarded certificates for passing Grisha Stewart's "Behavior Adjustment Training" test: the training program WAG implements. Stewart flew from Alaska to conduct the rigorous two day test. Unit Supervisor Michelle Klepps stated, "I never saw a group of men study that hard - they even had notes posted above their bunk to study at night." Stewart has only certified 120 people into her program, worldwide, since 2010. After her visit to CBCC, it is now 128, including Brabant who also took/passed the test.
All seven trainers passed, six scoring in the 90th percentile and one scoring 100%. "I was unbelievably proud as this is an incredibly hard test," stated Brabant. "It gives the trainers something to fall back on when they get out." Even trainers with no chance of release still took the test and scored exceptionally well. "I know (the high scores are because) they care so much about the dogs and being in the program, plus it gives them a sense of accomplishment and pride."
To learn more about the CBCC program or WAG, Brabant will be at the ribbon cutting ceremony Saturday, Oct 28, 11 am to 2 pm at 751 McComb Road, Sequim for the unveiling of the new WAG facility in the location of the former McComb nursery. Directors and volunteers will be on hand to give tours, answer questions, tour the Memorial Garden, and show dogs available for adoption.
Judith Bell of 'Beaujes Dog Training' helped WAG get a basic dog training program together teaching only positive reinforcement methods. Over the years we have evolved and now include BAT training, (Behavior Adjustment Training), counter conditioning, desensitization, etc., which we have found are crucial tools for the fear based reactive dogs we encounter. We have had over 170 dogs and 97 puppies go through our program over the last five years. Many of these dogs were dogs that needed extensive training in order to give them a good chance of being a successful family pet. Upon graduation the dogs are able to pass the AKC good citizenship test.
We developed a Puppy Preschool Program where puppies are given a step up before they are adopted into their new homes. They are socialized with people and other dogs, introduced to the leash as well as many different textures, sounds, etc. We also have taken some of our dogs to CBCC that needed rehabilitation after extensive joint surgery. The trainers are given explicit instructions from the vet and surgeon as to what kind of therapy activities the patient can do.
We are very excited about our recent partnership with Center Valley Animal Rescue (CVAR) in the new CBCC cat program. CVAR supplies us with the cats as well as supplies and any medical attention that may be needed. When the cats graduate from CBCC they are returned to CVAR and put up for adoption. The cats that are placed in the program at CBCC are in need of socialization, especially with people. Many are fearful and need to learn to trust again. The cats are taught to wear a harness, walk on leash, etc. Some have been clicker trained and learned to sit, come, stay, etc. One cat was taught to growl like a lion on cue and give you a high five or shake hands. WAG's volunteers meet with the cats and trainers in class and the handlers are taught basic cat care, training and basic first aid. This program is another win-win for not only the cats enrolled in the program but the handlers and offenders in the unit.
Our partnership with CBCC has become so much more than just a dog training program. The evolution it has taken over the years has changed the lives of many dogs, offenders and adopting families and has become a great testimony of what can happen when you can work together for the good of the animals. WAG has several videos on Youtube, just look under WAG Halfway Home Ranch. Also, if you would like further information CVAR website can be found at http://www.centervalleyanimalrescue.org
Currently WAG has no additional funding for our prison program in 2018.
To help the WAG / CBCC Prison Program be financially sustainable, CBCC inmates help support the program by making items that WAG can turn around and sell.
Some items needed on a regular basis that your money would help WAG provide are listed below.
Your support for this important program is appreciated.
Columbian.com News - In this Sept. 27, 2016 photo, Welfare for Animals Guild volunteer Chris Clark, left, talks to Clallam Bay Corrections Center inmate Douglas Gallagher as he holds Skeeter, a dog he had trained, during a reunion with the animal in Clallam Bay, Wash. The dog was part of a program at the prison sponsored by the Sequim, Wash.-based Welfare for Animals Guild to rehabilitate problem dogs. (Brian Harmon/The Peninsula Daily News via AP)
CLALLAM BAY (AP) — Prison inmates are teaching testy dogs civility at the Clallam Bay Corrections Center. The dogs bounded into the visit room at the mixed-custody prison for a reunion with their inmate handlers.
It was the first reunion in the five years that the Sequim-based Welfare for Animals Guild has sponsored the dog-training program, which has given more than 200 canines a new leash on life, reported the Peninsula Daily News (http://bit.ly/2dK4KVE).
There may be no better place for bite-prone animals to receive the constant care they need to break out of their own prisons, say inmates, prison officials and WAG organizers. It’s the perfect setting for dogs that need care 24/7 to let go of their fear and anger, Guild President Barbara Brabant of Sequim said. The animals stay for weeks or months in the program — however long it takes for them to become whole, she said.
The men who train the animals learn responsibility, acquire a skill they can use outside the prison walls and see their loving touch take hold, said Clallam Bay resident Tanja Cain, prison offender program coordinator, and Correctional Unit Supervisor Michelle Klepps, who grew up in Clallam Bay and lives in Forks. “This not only changes the dog, it changes the offenders in a positive way,” Klepps said.
Brabant said the animals that lit up the visit room were among the 156 adult dogs and 73 puppies whose lives were turned around by the men who call the mixed-custody facility home. The inmates, about a dozen among the 900 at Clallam Bay, have trained daily over weeks or months — however long it takes — until the dogs pass an American Kennel Club obedience test. The AKC will not certify inmates as dog trainers, but WAG is putting together a course under which they would be certified under WAG’s auspices upon leaving prison.
The animals sleep in the inmates’ cells and get taken on regular walks in a special prison yard where men hardened by circumstances and their own bad decisions dutifully scoop up their animals’ poop. While in the training program, the dogs are tethered by leashes colored red for “don’t touch the animal,” yellow for “ask the handler first before petting” and green for “give the dog all the love you’ve got.”
Participants at the reunion included a dozen inmates who earned participation in the program through good behavior. About 50 people attended, including about 35 WAG board and group members, and dog owners. They were on the verge of giving up on their animals before the dogs adopted the inmates as their constant companions.
The dogs, accompanied by their owners, included Sky the Great Pyrenees Husky, Connor the boxer-husky and Skeeter the Chihuahua. Skeeter was trained by Seattle resident Douglas Gallagher, 56, serving life in prison as a three-strike offender. After Gallagher, whose third offense was robbery, took in Skeeter, he watched the tiny pup go through two days of seizures before the dog lost its fear, Gallagher said in an interview before testimonials from inmates and dog owners. “Watching this dog reminded me of how helpless my victims were,” said Gallagher, who has rehabilitated 19 animals. Gallagher trained another animal who was afraid of that dog toy of all dog toys — a Frisbee. “Being in a correctional facility is unlike anything in the world,” Gallagher said. “This has helped a lot in dealing with people, dealing with staff.”
William Friedrichs, 33, of Olympia, is serving 28 years for armed robbery, he said in an interview. For him, the dog-training program is a path to a plateau he invoked more than once: redemption. “I feel that through this program, I am being able to top the scales by doing so much more good,” Friedrichs said “I’m finally creating positive stuff instead of just negative, destructive things.” “It’s helped with my ability to communicate with others, and I’ve become more compassionate,” Friedrichs said. “There are not a lot of jobs in here that have that. “This is a very rewarding job in that sense.”Most other prison jobs pay 30 cents to 42 cents an hour except for textiles-related correctional industries, where uniforms are made and inmates can earn up to $1.70 an hour. Inmates in the dog-training program are paid 42 cents an hour, but the wages are capped at $55 a month for taking care of the dogs 24 hours a day. Connor was an aggressive dog that Friedrichs said he identified with and who Brabant said “was totally not adoptable.”It took Friedrichs three to four months to train the 85-pound animal. “Not a bad dog, just an aggressive dog,” Friedrichs said. “He didn’t want to fight, but it turned into a fight because he didn’t have a better way. “I spent a lot of time to socially interact, and now he lives a full and happy life.”Inmates can receive photos of the dogs they’ve trained after they have been returned to their owners. Friedrichs has since seen photos of Connor playing on a beach, chasing birds, but the pictures inmates receive lack people for safety reasons, Brabant said.
Inmates don’t know where the dogs live, either. That doesn’t faze Friedrichs, who is proud when he sees dogs he has trained living happy lives. “You think, ‘Yeah, I did that,”‘ he said.
During testimonials, Friedrichs sat next to Connor’s owner, Kathy Schock of Sequim. After Friedrichs’ tutelage, Connor “was a totally different dog,” Schock told the group. “That’s all because of this guy here.”
Inmate Charles Graves, who trained Sky, has been in the program longer than any other inmate. The dogs have been abandoned “just like a lot of other people,” he told the gathering. The dogs have taught me how to rediscover bonding again. “I spend more time with these dogs than any person I have in my life.” Graves recalled having a leashed dog at his side while talking to a friend over a prison phone. Graves had to tell the dog to stop annoying him. His friend asked who he was talking to. “He said, ‘You got a dog? They let you have dogs in prison?’ “He said, ‘What kind of prison you in?”‘
Inmate Alan Nord told the group that watching inmates and dogs interact has a positive effect on those observing their give-and-take. “To see the dudes in this prison that are killers and whatever, they have a puppy, you see the tension in the day room drop dramatically,” he said.
Other state prisons also have dog-training programs, Brabant said, adding that Clallam Bay’s is more rigorous than others.
Cain said WAG volunteers visit every week, conduct training sessions and talk to the handlers.
Prison Superintendent Ronald Haynes said the program has a transformative impact on Clallam Bay’s inmates. “It kind of takes them away from the prison life and gives them a purpose,” he said.
At the end of the presentation, WAG members, inmates and dog owners were urged to mingle — with a reminder that the setting for all this good cheer was a prison. “No hugging, just handshakes,” Brabant told the gathering.
After the event the inmates, dressed in neat khaki pants and white T-shirts, returned to their daily lives while visitors waited for the locked visit-room door to open so they could collect keys and wallets secured in the waiting area near the entrance door.
The walkway outside led to an exit gate, past stacked, tubular bales of razor wire several feet away and a closer row of small signs that warned any inmates who could read the signs that if they strayed, lethal force awaited them.
Brabant said WAG and Center Valley Animal Rescue in Quilcene are starting a training program for cats that need to be socialized that’s modeled after the one for dogs. She said three felines are already being leash- and clicker-trained at Clallam Bay by inmates in the prison’s restrictive closed-custody unit. “There’s cat guys out there,” Brabant joked.